An Extraordinarily Ordinary Watershed Moment

November 2, 2015

Last night I was unnerved as I sat staring at my computer.  Unnerved is a bit exaggerated, but staring at the wall with a glaze over me thicker than a doughnut is getting close.  I was trying to write a blog and my mind kept fogging over, leaving a blank page that taunted me like a school yard bully.

I thought back to the weekend I’d just spent in Dallas.  I was the speaker at a conference and decided to teach the women about a word I’d fallen in love with years before—Watershed Moments.  It’d been a while since I thought about these moments—the kind that impact you, shape you, and change you for good.  A few years ago I was so enthralled with moments that I wrote an entire book about them with a subtitle that read…Turning Points That Change the Course of our Lives.

Our lives are defined by such moments.  Some moments pass like the flicker of a blinking eye while other moments leave you marked—decidedly different than before.  Sometimes we’re in such a hurry looking for the “big” moments of life that we miss the smaller moments that stitch themselves one to another, and wrap us in greater impact than the flashy moments we set out after.

I read a story about a cab driver who experienced a Watershed that left him profoundly changed.  His Watershed didn’t come in the form of loud lessons or triumphant victories, but in the tender hug of a lonely woman.  I was reminded of this story the other day when I rushed right through my life on my way to bigger moments.  This story became one of my personal Watersheds…

“Twenty years ago I drove a cab for a living.  It was a cowboy’s life, a life for someone who wanted no boss.  What I didn’t realize was that it was also a ministry.

Because I drove the night shift my cab became a moving confessional.  Passengers climbed in, sat behind me in total anonymity, and told me about their lives.  I encountered people whose lives amazed me, ennobled me, made me laugh and weep.  But none touched me more than a woman I picked up late one August night.

I was responding to a call from a small brick four-plex in a quiet part of town.  When I arrived at 2:30 a.m., the building was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window.  Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, then drive away.  But I had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as their only means of transportation, so I walked to the door and knocked.  ‘Just a minute’ answered a frail, elderly voice.  After a long pause the door opened and a small woman in her eighties stood before me.  She was neatly dressed, like somebody out of a 1940’s movie.  “Would you carry my bag to the car?’ she asked.  She kept thanking me for my kindness as I helped her into the car.

When we got in the cab she gave me an address, then asked ‘Could you drive me through downtown?’  I told her it wasn’t the shortest way, but she assured me she was in no hurry.  ‘I’m on my way to hospice,’ she whispered.  ‘I don’t have any family left, and the doctor says I don’t have very long.’

I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.  For the next two hours we drove through the city.  She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.  We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband lived when they were newlyweds.  She had me pull up to a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she’d gone dancing as a girl.

We drove in silence to her destination.  It was a low building with a gray tint.  ‘How much do I owe you?’ she asked, reaching in her purse.  ‘Nothing,’ I said.

‘You gave an old woman a little moment of joy, she said.  ‘Thank you.’  I bent towards her and gave her a hug, and squeezed her hand as I walked into the dim morning light.

I didn’t pick up any passengers that shift.  I drove aimlessly, lost in thought.  For the rest of the day I could hardly talk.  When I reflect back, I don’t think I have done anything more important in all my life.  We’re conditioned to think our lives revolve around great moments.  But great moments often catch us unaware—beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small moment.”

In the dark hours of a routine night this cab driver experienced a Watershed.  A great moment that caught him unaware, leaving the fragrance of his life entwined with another in a deep pool of hope.  A true Watershed isn’t to be hoarded, but to be shared.  To spread its gift of insight from our life, to the lives of those around us.

Don’t rush by your moments today on your way to bigger settings.  Stop and enjoy the moments God uses for a deeper glory.